2020 Insights for Christians: The Pandemic, Race Relations, and the American Election(By Christopher Long, BodEquip Ministries)
I know right now particularly here in the U.S. in this election season that things are ultra "heated" right now for lack of a better word. While many Christians do seem to be supporting one side (i.e. Trump), there are some Christians that do love Jesus but feel differently (I know some). The challenge for anyone writing or saying anything about any of this stuff is that people are so polarized right now that you run the real risk that you are dismissed before you even really get into what you are saying...
Let me be clear from the outset. My goal or intention in writing today, in line with my intentions in the past whenever I've written about anything that touches the political sphere, is NOT to defend or attack a politican. That isn't really my heart or my goal. If you want to hear that, I'd suggest looking to your preferred cable news channel that will tell you what you want to hear. As a minister of Jesus Christ, my goal is to look at things as a Christian and I'm less concerned about symptom issues than I am root issues. Much of what we are seeing in our world these days are a bunch of symptoms. And many are arguing about the symptoms but missing the bigger picture and the deeper things in play. The real issues going on right now are not the issues most people think are going on.
At the same time, I do believe the political parties as they stand in America today overall do mirror two very different worldviews.
There has been a whole lot going on in our world this year. Let's start with the Pandemic.
I do not deny the reality of COVID or that many worldwide have died from it. Here are a few things that I know as a minister though:
(1) This disease is not from God. The devil is the one that came to steal, kill, and destroy. The devil is the one that wants to inflict sickness on people. The devil ultimately is behind COVID. If you don't believe that or are not sure, then I definitely would recommend you check out my book "Where's the Abundant Life?" as it makes the Scriptural case explaining that. Note I'm not saying that God can't work with things and bring good out of all this - only that He's not the one responsible in the first place. This COVID disease was a demonically inspired barb aimed not just at society at large, but the Church in particular (more on this later).
(2) A major driving force and fruit of this disease has been fear. Fear is not of God. Fear is of the devil. Faith is of God. When unbelievers are confronted with something outside their control that can affect their mortality, it produces great amount of fear in them. This they then react to by trying to control their circumstances in whatever extreme ways they can - they will go to extreme measures following human wisdom to try and deal with things. They make decisions solely out of fear, not from a position of faith.
In the Church, it is SUPPOSED to be the opposite. While I think there's nothing wrong with the Church taking practical and reasonable steps, believers in Jesus are not supposed to be operating out of fear, but of faith. This pandemic has merely showcased what I've already known (that's a main reason why I believe God had me write my book) - which is that much of the Christian Church is quite superficial and really doesn't live much in the realm of Bible faith, beyond having a simplistic faith in Jesus to forgive them of their sins and let them live in Heaven someday.
This disease and each church's response to it has showcased which churches and their leaders are operating in fear, and which are operating in faith. There has been a great shaking going on.
Many of those that are operating from a place of fear don't THINK they are operating in fear, but that they are just being "wise" or "careful" or "practical". Many of those that think they are operating in wisdom are operating in man's wisdom, not God's wisdom. There is a difference...
I'm not likely to win over those people in an article like this.
What I do want to highlight though is the result we've seen in society from fear-driven decisions is mass economic chaos and disruption and mass social isolation, which fosters hopelessness, loneliness, and further societal division.
I know families that won't get together with other family members because of the potential threat of this disease. I know churches that aren't even meeting, and of those that are, I know many are meeting with members in full mask-wearing garb with limited to no interaction with one another. Even in churches where that is not the case, it's rare to experience the church being family as portrayed in Scripture. There are many churches where you can't even hug or touch each other.
But there is inconsistency here in how pastors and leaders are responding and it's not always along the lines you would think. The main church I attended for the last 8 years just last weekend held their first in-person service in roughly 7 months! And it was outside (even though they do have a large facility inside). What I'm pretty sure is a result of their not meeting in person, they had to get rid of a significant portion of real-estate they were using and trim things down - presumably because they no longer had the finances coming in to sustain it. All because they thought they needed/had to only do church online and that somehow just having church in a virtual experience was going to cut it and meet people's needs. Just as a note, this church strongly caters to the younger crowd and is largely filled with healthy young people, not those more at risk.
I also attended a large charismatic megachurch that many of you would know of if I told you the name that at least in doctrine believes in Jesus' healing power and that had a rich history of having faith for health/healing that just prior to COVID was experiencing a revival of its own. But when COVID hit, they shut down meeting in person and are still only doing livestreams ~7 months later. Meanwhile literally across the street is another large church that is NOT charismatic and doesn't have nearly the history of doctrine/practice of using faith for health and healing. But that church while shutdown for a month or two, reopened in May and has been open since. When they initially reopened they did so with reasonable changes such as taking your temperature when you entered using a contactless thermometer, providing sanitizer, having separate entrances and exits, and spacing people apart. Since then they've relaxed some of those - while some people attending do wear masks, I'd say it's the exception and not the rule.
Some of you may have heard of John MacArthur's church in Los Angeles that's been in the news for defying the California Governor's mandate and meeting in person. What you might not know is that John MacArthur is (or at least was the last time I checked) a cessationist that doesn't even believe the Gifts of the Spirit are for today and thus his church is not what one would think likely to be some great bastian of having lots of faith for believing God to protect them and keep them healthy and flowing in gifts of healing etc. Yet he's been kind of the main California poster child for a pastor pushing back against the politicians.
After having moved to a new state in the summer, I looked for a church that was meeting because it was important to me having moved to a new area to get plugged in with people. Sorry, but you just can't do that "virtually". I had already had a list of churches but many of them were not meeting. I looked to find a church that on the fear vs faith equation, was at least trying to operate in faith and realized that they needed to be church and that you just can't shut down church indefinitely. I found one and it's been great and a respite in the midst of everything. For the most part this church has just continued fellowshipping with one another and trying to just "be the church" regardless of what the world does, etc.
It's weird though to then check out a church nearby that wasn't meeting for a long time but just recently started again and see everything much more tightly locked up with everyone wearing a mask and separated apart with people even holding signs as you entered telling you to stay away from others and keep your mask on etc. As a visitor it was odd and "cold feeling" to me and I felt like a "leper" in that church.
My point is there is NO consistency among the Church in America for how to respond or deal with all this stuff, and it doesn't even necessarily fall along the lines you might expect.
I understand that there's lots of issues involved to be considered depending on your area, including even things such as legal and financial liability etc. (though this can ALSO easily be a fear trap!) I get that some bigger churches might have some different considerations than some smaller churches etc or that the congregant makeup (i.e. lots of older people versus younger) might influence these decisions. I know there has been intense pressure on pastors and leaders and that regardless of what they do/do not do there are those who are going to criticize them. But I also think just as a general statement that if your church can't be open at a time when people more than ever need church to be open and meeting in person because of all the chaos and you're seriously going to mostly shutdown a church for 7 months or more because of a virus that generally has a 99% recovery rate, than that's possibly indicative of a notable problem (and not with the virus, but with the church and its leadership). Personally if I went to such a church, I'd think on and pray very seriously about moving on from that church and instead finding a church that was actually meeting...I know the arguments on the other side ("we want to be a good witness with our community by submitting to the governing leaders and medical authorities") and I do understand that tension particularly for large churches, but churches and their leaders need to decide if they are actually going to be a church or not...and if so, then they need to act in accordance with that...That's my opinion anyway and I'm sticking with it. :)
I also know and understand that some people, particularly older people or those that are more at risk, might feel uncomfortable attending a church in person right now. I'm not condemning anybody in that boat so please don't misunderstand me. I do believe people need to follow their own consciences with the Lord. Also, if a person's individual faith level isn't at place where they feel they can go to church in person, then I would say they probably should not until that changes. And the truth is that because many churches do operate in a pretty low-faith-level and haven't had much faith for health and healing, there are lots of believers that aren't particularly well-equipped to attend in a position of strong faith.
At the same time, what is clear to me is that the devil is wanting people to be isolated. As believers in Jesus we are told in Scripture to meet together with one another. There are things that just cannot be duplicated virtually or by watching a teaching online.
I also just have to say this: If you are one that has been watching church online but not meeting in person and yet you don't really feel like you are missing much from meeting in person, I'd say that's indicative of some major issues either with your church or with your relationship with Jesus. If your church isn't one where pre-COVID people actually knew each other and hugging each other and fellowshipping with and ministering both to and with each other regularly in all sorts of ways, but instead was mostly just a "teaching center" where you went to sing a few songs and hear a message, then it might seem like not a big deal to just sing a few songs and listen to a message from home... But that is NOT Scripturally what church is portrayed to be. It's supposed to be much more than that.
Also: The Church of Jesus Christ is not a business. We are a holy institution made up of fellow believers that are supposed to be operating in faith and meeting with and encouraging one another. There is no politician that Biblically has the authority to shut us down or tell us we can only have 10 believers in a building or whatnot. We answer to a higher authority. John MacArthur is right on this, and regardless of whether your church is meeting in person or not, every believer in America should be standing with John MacArthur and other leaders that have taken such stands, for this principle alone. Sadly, there has been VERY LITTLE unity among the American Church. Churches should be known as places of power and faith and hope in the midst of all of this. Sadly much of the American Church and its leaders was woefully unprepared for that task and this pandemic has merely brought that to the forefront.
This whole issue with what's going on right now isn't actually just about COVID, but it's about SO MUCH MORE. Much more than many believers realize. There is a whole gameplan of darkness going on right now that's trying to change the fabric of things across-the-board. There is a great deal of spiritual warfare going on. This isn't just an American political thing, but a worldwide spiritual one. The devil is literally trying to unhinge humanity itself - for people to operate even more in fear and be isolated and distant from others, which increases division in lots of other ways. Long after COVID has gone, I think there's likely to be significant lingering of these effects as people have given themselves over to new ways of doing things. When you go down a certain path, you strengthen that path's influence in your life. Fear begets more fear, just as faith begets more faith. If one starts going further down the fear path, it's likely to snowball and manifest in all sorts of other ways beyond just feeling like you can't be around anybody right now because you might get sick.
I'm not going to make the case here (that's what my book is for), but I do just have to say in passing: As believers in Jesus Christ, we have authority in Jesus and we are not supposed to live as though some disease has more power than WE have in Jesus. We aren't to cower in fear of anything. If one is letting some disease rule whether they can visit with family members or whether they can go and meet with fellow believers, I'd say one needs to give further consideration and study on these things.
Again, that doesn't mean we shouldn't do practical things and it doesn't mean I think we should go out of our way to try and put ourselves in harms way (I'm definitely NOT advocating that). But it does mean that each of us as believers in Jesus need to evaluate where we are putting our faith and trust. The truth is right now many believers (including many pastors) are putting more faith in COVID than they are in Jesus. That's a harsh statement, but it's true.
As a Christian, coming back to where I started with this, there is a very simple test to see what is of God and is what is of the devil. If it's fear, it's the devil. That means decisions based in that, including on a large scale in our country are a problem. I don't care if the rationale for the decisions are bathed in terms of it being "what science says" or whatever rationale people like to throw around. If you boil it down, it boils down to fear, regardless of how people have fooled themselves otherwise.
On a practical level, as a world we just can't shutdown businesses and schools indefinitely. As a sidenote, I personally consider it absolutely horrible what we are teaching our kids by forcing them to constantly wear masks and have plastic shields at their school desks and stay notably apart from everyone etc. There is a point where it is not wrong to question whether the actions we impose is doing more harm than the original problem. That's not a denial of the problem or saying it's not serious, but all the ramifications from decisions being made are very serious too. Politically it is clear that one side of the aisle here in America is overall more apt to implement harsher sweeping, controlling, policies, and one is more apt to take a lighter hand in trying to balance other concerns as well. I think it's obvious which is which.
On the subject of race relations, any Christian that believes the Bible has to conclude that all humans regardless of skin color have worth and value and the same worth and value as any other humans. Any Christian that believes the Bible has to conclude that God cares about all people and that he cares about justice. Anyone naming the name of Jesus should want all people to be treated fairly and nobody to be looked down upon or treated differently solely on the basis of their skin color.
In America, we have indeed had a troubled history in the race department. Now some of that history has been "rewritten" by some to support certain narratives so there's an awful lot of misinformation out there, but the fact that in America there have been major problems in the racial sphere is an established fact. As a country we were born with a certain "birth defect" if you will, that we've been trying to correct ever since. We fought a major war 160 years ago partially dealing with this issue. But in the aftermath of that war, while some good change was brought about, there were still significant problems. 100 years later in the Civil Rights movement in the 1960's, again much good change was brought about. In subsequent decades of the 1970's to 1990's this only solidified further. Someone like me that was born in the 1970's or 1980's had a whole different cultural experience than say someone that might have grown up in the 1940's or 50's. I grew up in an era where prejudice was heavily looked down upon. When I turned on my TV as a kid, I saw scores of shows with racially diverse casts and black people painted in a very positive light. I could literally name dozens of popular television shows from the 1980's (largely a reflection of our cultural opinions) where it was just assumed all races interacted and got along well. I did not grow up in an overtly segregated world and as a child I was culturally taught not to dismiss someone because of their skin color. Culturally, obviously great strides were made to the point that a black individual became President in 2008 (whether I or you agreed or disagreed with many of his policy positions is irrelevant to this point).
However, I can say and acknowledge all that, and yet at the same time acknowledge that there are still concerns.
Now, before going further, one of the related things in talking about this issue that we have to consider is that because of social media, one local event can instantly become a national thing in a way that was not the case pre-Internet. The Internet is a great tool and is very powerful. Unfortunately its power extends both ways. The Internet, and particularly social media, can be great at both uniting people and dividing people. In fact it facilitates uniting people into groups - groups that then attack other groups of people that have united. This could be a whole research study, but the impact of social media cannot be ignored. We have all gotten conditioned to living in a heightened state of agitation, ready to pounce on anyone that even hints at disagreeing with us on something. We'll come back to this later because that's actually indicative of a deeper issue but for now I just want to make the point that social media plays a factor in shaping our narrative.
In addition, there's the more traditional news media, which by-and-large it's not even really in dispute that it has long been largely one-sided politically (there are some major exceptions but as a whole the fact that there is a liberal-bias in the news media is something that's been known and acknowleged for decades, even by many that identify as liberals). That, combined with people having political objectives means a lot of news loves to add gasoline onto flames and portray things in ways that will produce further division and agitation. This dynamic of course happens with non-liberal news media too. Mirroring our increasingly "united-but-divided" mode from social media, most news media outlets simply play to their chosen audience rather than actually trying to fairly deliver the news in as objective a way as possible. News journalists feel an "obligation" to tell us their opinions and commentary on the news. There's lots of subtle and not-so-subtle ways in which the news delivers stories in ways designed to evoke certain reactions from viewers. Stories are routinely painted in certain ways, which then social media fuels by sharing and amplifying, or vice-versa. People all the time assume that the way things are being presented is as it actually is when in reality there can be a great disparity there. They then feel qualified to instantly make major judgements against other people based on a short news story or some video clip they saw on social media.
I believe most people, Christian or not, desire justice. When we see an injustice, we want to condemn it and fix it. This is not in and of itself a bad thing. In fact, as alluded to, justice is one of God's core character traits. Justice ultimately comes from God. So us as humans desiring justice and cringing at injustice is a really good thing.
However, it can also be very easy to see some injustices and then extrapolate out a bunch of things. It is very easy (in any sphere) to see certain example cases of something that we then extrapolate out to assume something is so commonplace or else we wouldn't see those example cases. But those are assumptions. We need to be really careful with this. I have no trouble for instance believing that there is racism among some police officers. But saying that and then making a leap to a conclusion that all or most police are like this and that police departments should be dismantled is a whole different level.
When I saw the video of the police officers with George Floyd, I thought it seemed reprehensible the way the officers were acting. However, I didn't see anything that told me definitively that the reason WHY an officer had his knee on his neck was because he was black. I'm not saying it wasn't, only that making that kind of a judgment based on a short clip was something I didn't feel able to do. An officer could act like that because of power trip issues or for other motivations that do not necessarily have to involve race one bit. Again, I don't know the story on that. What I do know is that instantly seemingly the entire world felt qualified to instantly make a judgment as to the individual heart motivations of people and why they were acting as they were. Indeed, several snippets of information have subsequently come out that lead one to see that there just might be more to the story than the way the original narrative was given. Again, I'm not saying racism was not perhaps in play however.
But, with that said, the video was really a catalyst for frustrations that had been boiling for some time (I would say in lots of spheres, but this provided an opportunity for outlet and people to vent their frustrations). It played right into the "America is racist" and "The President is racist" narratives that had been espoused for some time by many in the media world (we'll come back to this in a bit).
It also followed many other stories through the years of police seemingly treating black people unfairly and thus for many this was a "boiling point" where some were saying that "enough is enough".
So then the story quickly moves from talking about George Floyd to racism in general and how black lives matter. But then partly because there's a Black Lives Matter organization that stands for things beyond just a basic idea that black people matter and that we need to look at some race related issues, but also standing for a complete redefining of family structures and embracing things that many Christians (and those politically conservative) find problematic, there's been pushback. Especially when those saying "Black Lives Matter" are then seen burning businesses and hurting people and taking over cities. [Sidenote: if you haven't ever gone to the Black Lives Matter website to read their goals and objectives, go do so - you may find it eye-opening.]
There also are those who just don't think it helpful to emphasize differences. So, before long, everyone's shouting. One person's saying "Black Lives Matter" and another sees that and thinks they are dividing people and wanting to embrace radical ideas, and so they shout back "No, ALL lives matter". Meanwhile any chance for real productive dialogue gets lost.
There ARE some real legitimate race related issues in America. We have made great progress, but there are issues, friends. And honestly, all we have to do as Christians is look at our churches to know that. Many of our churches are still largely segregated and that's just an objective fact... They aren't all that way, but many are.
I also have personally heard some black people that I have known share concerns about the way in which they have been treated in the past. I don't ever want to be one to dismiss that. I do believe racism is a very real thing and actually a symptom of some spiritual issues we'll be getting to shortly.
Racism can manifest in lots of ways. It doesn't have to manifest in some extreme case. One can very subtly look down on or have an extra distrust of someone else simply because of their skin color.
At the same time, not everything that people categorize as racism is really about skin color. I could write a whole lot on this, but I'm going to share an example instead to illustrate what I mean.
As a child growing up, I heard my grandparents make numerous statements that seemed to me born out of racism because they didn't like black people. But then they became friends with a black man and this man considered them such friends that he even volunteered to play at their anniversary party. They genuinely liked each other. I remember my grandparents saying about him, "We really like him. He's black, but he's different because he acts like a white man."
And that's when I realized that what I had naively thought in simplicity was my grandparents dislike of black people because of skin color actually wasn't really about skin color at all, but about what they perceived as black versus white values and modes of behavior. It wasn't really that they didn't like the color of their skin, but they had an issue with behavior they had seen from black people and so they tended to lump all black people in the same boat by default. One could argue that is still racism, and in a sense that's true in lumping all people of a certain color in a certain category, but I'd say a better term for it in some cases might be "valuesism". Actually a lot of what we term "racism", I think is less about actual skin color than what people believe that skin color represents.
For instance, it is again objective fact that there historically have been high degrees of violence, out-of-wedlock births, absentee fathers, school dropouts, and poverty in many black communities. Now one could argue that part of the disparity in some black communities is a result of some of these longtime race issues. But it also can become a circular thing that fuels further division. To some white people, they see things like black rap music glorifying being in gangs and shooting people and dominating women, and they ascribe that as a part of black culture that is to them a threat to society at large. When one sees enough of that kind of stuff (which is also reinforced when they see images on TV of black people looting stores and so forth), it becomes very easy to be more skeptical (perhaps almost imperceptibly so) of someone they first meet that is black than one that is not. But these tendencies aren't really as much about skin color itself as what that skin color represents to them. Which means the real issue in many cases is more fundamental than skin color.
This is all very complex stuff. But here's another personal example. I'm a white guy that's grown up largely in middle/upper middle surroundings with a fair degree of white people around me. But I'm also a Christian that believes all humans are equal before God and that there's actually ultimately only one real "race" - the "human race" - and actually that God delights in variety of colors! I've been friends with several black people (and hispanic and varying others as well). I don't consider myself "racist" nor do I think anyone could legitimately apply that label to me. I could be at the gas pump and have a black person pull up behind me and not have even a twinge or negative thought or anything concerning. But yet, after all this latest unrest, where I wasn't even really paying super attention to the rioting images on TV etc, I found myself at the gas station where a couple of black individuals pulled up. They did or said nothing concerning and didn't have anything that SHOULD have caused me to think anything different, but with all the division and unrest and all going on in our society, I am ashamed to say it but I very briefly had a thought that was fairly non-formed go through my mind that was along the lines of: "I wonder if these black people are part of those causing trouble and I should be concerned?" Now that was completely unjustified on my part and I instantly dismissed that and chastized myself. But my point is that it is a thought I would never have had months prior before the riots. But now I did. What changed? Was it that I instantly became a racist? Was it some beneath-the-surface racism just waiting to express itself? Or was it mostly borne out of a natural fleshly human protective reaction to all the division I had seen and heard about? I definitely would argue the latter. Which points to some other issues...
Just as when talking about the pandemic, I mentioned that fear is of the devil, another sign of the devil is division and discord. In Jesus, the ground is level at the foot of the cross and that is where true unity is found. While there's nothing wrong with pointing out some injustices and God is a God of justice, I have what might be a newsflash for some: This world will ALWAYS have injustices in it. It is a broken world full of sinful people that need Jesus. Even those that have come to Jesus are still in process of renewing their minds and having behavior that lines up with who they are as a new creation in Christ. There is always going to be injustice. There will always be racism.
That doesn't mean we shouldn't point out injustice. However, there is a real big trap here. Just as fear begets fear (this is a Bible principle of sowing and reaping), division begets division. When we start focusing on what makes us separate and call all that out and put our focus there, we actually are a part of unknowingly fueling further division. Trying to get people to have better hearts and treat people better by yapping about how bad some police officers are on social media is NOT the answer. You will not find the answer to racial problems and division in a politician, you will not find the answer in protests. As Christians, we have the answer, and His name is Jesus. Until people's hearts are changed, anything else at best is just some fake window dressing someone manages to put up.
I'm not saying bad policies or injustices should not be addressed. I AM saying that as believers if we spend all our time yapping about all the PROBLEMS we actually just contribute to the problem because we just are another clanging voice and we actually can be used in fueling further division. Our job as Christians is to be the light and show people the true answer. Our job is not to be angry at others or frustrated all the time because of what's going on. This world will ALWAYS let us down. Our job as believers in Jesus is to point people to the answer.
The root of racism goes back to the Garden of Eden. It is rooted in pride, which is the main characteristic of the devil and was what was behind his downfall from Heaven. And incidentally pride is still the main problem we have today in the earth. Pride is not a good thing.
And I'm going to drop a bomb now - get ready: Many of the people that are running around calling others racist or sexist are actually themselves operating in pride, which is the same root underlying the racism they say they are denouncing and want to get rid of! Stay with me - I'm going to explain this.
It is VERY VERY popular these days for people to see something on social media or T.V. or even someone in real life and observe some action and then for the observer to draw a conclusion about the heart intent and motivations of the individual. We (and by we - I mean many Christians too) do this ALL the time. It's one thing to observe a behavior someone does. But most of the time while we may see a behavior, we don't actually know what's driving that behavior or know the person's individual heart motivations. In other words we may see the "WHAT", but we don't know the "WHY"! This is a basic relationship issue and the source of MUCH interpersonal conflict. Person A does one thing and Person B assumes they did that thing for a certain reason, but they may not have done it for that reason at all. Meanwhile though, we've gotten all worked up and told 100 people how terrible Person A is and WHY they did what they did. We feel justified and feel good about ourselves for having called out the "bad person".
We all feel qualified to go around judging everyone else's hearts and their motivations on things. And you know what that's rooted in? Pride. All the mudslinging going on on social media back and forth between many is little more than prideful arrogance fueled by a prideful, arrogant devil. It's all prideful attacks where we can go after others to feel better about ourselves and so we can reconfirm to ourselves that WE are so much better than THEM. It's pride. It's division. It's the devil. Period.
A quote for thought:
"Racism is a symptom. It is not the true problem. The true problem is that men have rejected the love of God, embraced darkness, and then picked one aspect of the darkness to be indignant about. You canít fight racism and support abortion. They are both the same darkness. You canít fight racism and desire to strip religious liberties from those who love God. The hypocrisy in the hearts of some is staggering. If you still embrace darkness in any of its manifestations, you have no place in the debate. You are a part of the darkness you say you hate. (See John 3:19-21)" - Barry Bennett
Now I'm going to bring this more to the political sphere (take it or leave it). My observation has been that for those that are Christians but have issues with President Trump, it's not that they dislike his policies so much as that they do not like his character and feel he is a poor representation of the Christian he proclaims to be. They feel like HE is a divider and isn't unifying and attacks people and is arrogant and prideful. Many in that boat also consider him to be racist and sexist. They believe his character is poor so they don't want to vote for him.
In truth, most honest Christians that know their Bible know that not everything about the way Trump says and acts lines up with the way Christians are supposed to behave. I do think he's his own worst enemy sometimes and I think most Christians that aren't too blinded by political idealogy alone can recognize that. And I also think some of his answers to the real concerns (whether valid or not) that people have had about him being racist etc have not been particularly helpful to his cause - I think he could have addressed those things in a MUCH better way.
I think it's totally legit to observe that the President often responds in a very brash and unloving way (although my observation has been that this has been decreasing in the last few years, and I also should point out that he seems to act this way indiscriminately towards people of all ethnicities etc). I don't consider much of what he has said "hateful", but he is very brash and blunt and does sometimes get into "vitriol" territory where he just attacks people (usually those that have attacked him). In fairness, many who attack him do the exact same thing and often times every bit as much (and often much moreso from what I've seen). If I was attacked as much as he is with a bunch of vicious things said about me and my family, I might be tempted to respond that way too sometimes. I think most people (Christian or not) would at least be tempted that way if we're honest. But regardless of what others do towards him, the issue is HIS behavior. As a Christian, this is where I do not and cannot support him. I've never liked this aspect about him and I don't now. When it comes to things like those TV tapes, I don't really care a whole lot what he said 15 years ago or whatever it was, but I do wish he would just own his mistakes. As a Christian, it has always seemed to me that he has a real pride issue. And I've always felt going back to the 2016 election that many Christians were willing to give him a pass on things because they agreed with him politically that they would never have given a pass to someone opposite from them politically (or actually strongly condemned in the case of Bill Clinton in the 90's). With that said... Whether Trump is a genuine Christian or not, I cannot say and don't personally know. I do know that I've heard of reports from pastors close to him that he did accept Christ a few years ago. It's entirely possible to me that he is a "baby Christian". We are all in process in life and maybe some of that pride and way he communicates is something that's going to take some time to work out. While love is to be the key trademark of being a Christian, there can be wide variations in that depending on where we are at.
I do acknowledge some of his problematic behavior (unlike some Christians who just whitewash it...). But I also have noted that when it comes to policy he has taken some pretty strong and substantive stands in line with the Bible and a Christian worldview. He has defended the church, religious liberty, supported faith-based organizations, supported Israel and Jerusalem, stood clearly for the unborn in very visible ways, called our nation to pray on many occasions, enacted policies to economically help all Americans including minorities and the poor, has surrounded himself with Christians including a faith counsel that regularly speak with and advise him, and more. And purely as an American, I have appreciated his wanting America to be in a very strong place (economically, militarily, etc) and wanting to keep us out of war and him taking a bunch of actions in line with that (he's put his actions where his mouth was). He's actually done quite a lot in these last 4 years, and while he's definitely made mistakes, he's done some really good stuff too, all while being non-stop attacked heavily and with strong bias in the media from the days BEFORE he even took office (and a bunch of those attacks have subsequently been proven to be unfounded or at least questionable). Back to the Christian view though, whether he genuinely is a Christian or not, he has been very friendly to Christians, moreso than any President that I have seen in my lifetime.
There are 2 camps in the Christian realm when it comes to him. One side looks at some of his behavior and they have trouble seeing beyond that. Another side acknowledges some of his troublesome behavior (although some don't acknowledge it near enough...), but look past that in recognizing that he is a flawed human just like the rest of us, but they like his policies. Many of these people also in a political sense LOVE the fact that he is such an anti-politician. Many people I believe had gotten really sick of just politicians for decades spinning on both sides of the political aisle with little actual action and the status quo remaining the same. Say what one will about Trump, but for the most part, he's pretty blunt and direct and non-polished and just puts it all out there and he definitely shakes things up, and many people do find that refreshing against a backdrop of decades of spinning politicians. Obama may have talked about transparency, but this guy lives it to an extreme - he just says what he thinks in the moment. This gets him into trouble all the time, but there are some people who still find that mode really refreshing. They recognize he has flaws and says stupid things sometimes, but they like that he's a "real guy" just putting it all out there instead of a polished politician who only gets caught saying stupid stuff when the mic's are accidentally left on... Those on the other side believe he should act more dignified in line with the office he is holding. While again I've noted he has "stepped up" his behavior some from what it was a few years ago, I think it still legit to point out that some of that behavior definitely does NOT seem very dignified. Ultimately it kind of comes down to what one is willing to look past when considering the total picture.
President Trump is just a human being like you and I or anyone else. He may objectively have some concerning character traits. But so objectively does the guy on the other side. And it also objectively is true that one of these guys has been singled out much more than the other by the media and entertainment sectors. This alone should tell us something - if the godless media/entertainment people are against someone with such vehemence that should be a sign....
It is objectively true that President Trump has been nonstop attacked in an incredibly vicious and dividing way since before he even took office. Much of the division that people are attributing to President Trump I think can easily be argued as division that has in reality been fueled significantly by those that disagree with the President ideologically. I think it can easily be argued that the real amplifier of division in our country has not been the President. That doesn't mean he's helped it or that I don't think he could have done a better job in this area, BUT many of the people that have come out attacking Trump by calling him a racist and a divider or whatever have themselves often come across incredibly hateful and divisive in their own speech in calling him out. And they don't even realize that they are doing the very same thing they say they are condemning.
Indeed the very division that we see around us isn't new to Trump. I remember very clearly the strong division and vitriolic attacks that were levied at George W. Bush when he was in office, and Bush is like the exact opposite in personality from Trump. So that fact alone should tell us that the division we are seeing isn't really because of Trump but because of something deeper...
I have always tried to vote the Bible and those that stand in line with Biblical principles as best I could regardless of party. However, there's been a radical shift in the democratic party over the last 15 years and the problem is that a whole lot of their platform runs counter to things I read in my Bible. Thus while I do not particularly identify myself as a "republican", practically speaking it is very hard for me to support most democrats. I mean, the issues of concern pretty much run the gamut: everything from policies towards Israel, support for homosexuality and all the gender nonsense, support for abortion, the role of the church in society, the removal of references to God, support for Islam, controlling and overstepping bounds of authority including against the Church, and so many more. And I'm not even going to touch the financial issues (many of which also violate financial principles in Scripture.) I mean, I have to work hard to think of an area where they HAVEN'T gone against God's Word, rather than the other way around. This is a problem...
That doesn't mean I think the republicans are doing everything in line with the Bible either. But between the two platforms right now, it's pretty clear to me that anyone that actually knows and believes their Bible should be able to easily tell which one of the two is more in line and which one isn't.
This is going to be a controversial statement for some, but our two parties actually are just reflecting more and more the spiritual dynamics in our world. There are eternally only two categories: light and darkness. There are those in darkness and those in light. There are those on the side of righteousness in Jesus and those that are doing the bidding of their father, the devil. The grey is disappearing and the dark is becoming darker and the light is becoming lighter.
I understand that some Christians feel they have trouble supporting President Trump as a person. But I would ask those people to consider their own lives and sin before lobbing stones. President Trump is just a human being. He may not be the example of a great Christian per se, and maybe there's someone else out there who is. But they aren't running in this election right now...Joe Biden and Kamala Harris most certainly don't fit the bill - they both have a record of behavior and beliefs that run counter to the Christian worldview. In fact if we really are just going to look at traits/beliefs of the candidates themselves, at least the Trump side has Pence who generally does seem to display much more of the fruit of a Christian. Regarding President Trump and his "character traits" though - if you find yourself as a Christian genuinely angry at Trump or writing intense vitriol about him, that may be more indicative of something wrong with you than him, and something you need to bring before Jesus. I'd say the same for anyone doing similar towards Biden.
Just as a life principle, I'm always more interested in actions than words. As a believer, more than what someone says, but what they actually do is what matters most to me. By and large, while I have not agreed with Trump on everything and even think he made some really big blunders, by and large if you can look past some of his character deficiencies what he has done has been pretty good and I think many people that aren't blinded by all the hatred flowing around out there towards Trump can acknowledge that.
The guy on the other side might say some good things with some flowing political finesse, but what matters is actions - and the whole stated platform of that side has very concerning things to those of the Christian faith who believe their Bible...There are too many believers right now that I believe are being blinded to the realities of the situation. What is at stake in this election is INDEED our country. I first wrote about the seriousness of the hour back in 2008 with the 2008 election and it's now all come to a head.
I encourage every Christian to vote and to look at the big picture of everything (and not just in a myopic view) and vote as best you can in accordance with the Bible.
With that said, something REALLY important:
Regardless of who wins, we are likely to see massive problems ahead and I believe all Christians need to make sure where they are anchored. This is another reason why it is absolutely demonic from the pit of hell that so much of the church has been isolated and fragmented this year. I believe we are going to need strong fellowship with our brothers and sisters in the times to come....
If Biden wins, he will NOT be the "savior" that many think he is. Guaranteed - take it to the bank. And he won't magically be some great unifier of the people either. Half the country knows his policy positions and can't stand them and believe they will ruin our country. He can talk unifying talk all day long, but that situation isn't going to change overnight.
If Trump wins, well, ya ain't seen nothing yet is all I can say as the other side is likely to ratchet things up even more than they have to an even more serious level. Half the country can't stand the man.
We all know what the Bible says about a house divided not being able to stand right? No matter who wins or loses, we have MAJOR division issues in our country. No political candidate can fix this. This is WAY beyond a political candidate or party. Don't be deceived into thinking things are going to right themselves if "your person" wins. And I guarantee we cannot solve our issues by arguing politics with people! Arguing politics on social media is pretty much pointless and only serves to build further frustration and division and destroy bridges you might otherwise have had with people to share things of eternity.
The only answer to fix this mess we are in is the Church of Jesus Christ and the hope of the Gospel. Unfortunately the Church right now in America is largely powerless declaring a weak "gospel" and sitting on the sidelines and many aren't even having in-person fellowship with one another. They also are seen as largely irrelevant (and even dangerous) by many in the culture at large. Before the culture gets its act together, we as the Church have to get OUR act together. And so far, I haven't been too encouraged with what I've seen on this front in the big picture.
We may have some really hard times ahead folks both as a nation and as the Church. I encourage every believer more than ever to dig deep in your relationship with God. Build yourself up in faith like never before. If there was ever a time in recent memory where American Christians needed to really get solid footing and be strong in faith and not give in to fear, this is it. I didn't write this as a plug for my book, but it just so happens that this is the main point of my book - to help correct some of the underlying theology problems within the Body that have created this powerless, low-faith state that we've gotten used to and thus pave the way for believers to use more of their faith to practically showcase to our world more of what Jesus died to provide.
I do believe a shakeup is occurring in the Christian church worldwide, and particularly here in America. Those that were/are "playing church" (including the pastors and leaders) on a superficial level or whose faith and theology never went any deeper than "God loves me and died for me so I can go to Heaven" or "God loves me so I can love others" are in great danger of falling by the wayside. Those things are true, but there are a whole lot of Christians out there who say they love God but aren't nearly as much in love with The Word and don't base their lives and opinions on what the Bible says, but on what THEY want to think. That's all a sandy foundation and the winds are blowing folks....
It's more important than ever that every person that names the name of Jesus takes their faith and growth as a follower and disciple of Jesus ultra-seriously. This is not a time to be passive or shallow.
Build well, my friends. And keep looking up. :)
P.S. - My book I referenced is available for purchase at www.bodequip.org/books.html
NOTE: There is an encouraging and worthwhile follow-up to this article called "2020 Post-Election Encouragement" available here.
This article is Copyright by Christopher Long 2020. All rights reserved. You may quote/reprint this article for any non-commercial purpose without obtaining permission as long as you use the entire text and that all text, including this and all following notices, is not modified or removed in any fashion. For any other usage, you must obtain written permission from the author.
This is version 1.0 of this document (October 30, 2020). Any personal references relating to timing or specific events are likely from when the article was first written for the first version and may or may not currently be accurate.
Previous versions: N/A
This document is provided as a ministry outreach of BodEquip Ministries. http://www.bodequip.org